Management Engineering graduates' VR speech therapy design is winner at Velocity $5K finals
Karthik Prasad, a Management Engineering alum (BASc '23), now a computer science graduate student, first started developing Pragmatica as a fourth-year design capstone project. But after speaking with the director of Velocity campus, Prasad found the pitch competition to be an interesting venture that could potentially further develop Pragmatica into a startup business.
“Waterloo has such a big infrastructure for resources that you can access, and they have a really good support system for entrepreneurship,” Prasad said. “It’s been really cool to see how we have taken a lot of steps towards becoming a company from just a product.”
Prasad, along with Waterloo alum, Thomas Mastantuono (BASc ‘23), Pragmatica is developing a VR speech therapy solution for people with communicative disorders to supplement or provide as an alternative for those who cannot access or afford a dedicated speech therapist.
“There are some current alternatives to speech therapy like online video exercises or online teletherapy,” Prasad explained during his pitch at the Velocity $5K finals.
“But the video exercise is really lacking interactivity and the live teletherapy is still limited by therapist availability. This is where our solution, Pragmatica, comes in consisting of curated VR activities that mimic the kind of exercises that are done in speech therapy sessions. So, people can practice their skills without the need of a speech therapist [present].”
Prasad added that there are currently three speech therapy clinics across Ontario that have agreed to conduct paid pilots with the team. The $5K grant will support the Pragmatica team to fund the development assets, hosting fees and the VR headset to run pilot tests.
Read the full story in Waterloo News.